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US Ground Troops Fighting ISIL

military-soldier-sunset

The ground troops that United States has not sent into Iraq to fight ISIL are reportedly in Iraq fighting ISIL.

Kevin Drum’s Lympho-Somethings Way Down

money-bankruptcy

Great news on the Kevin Drum front: I’m 8 weeks through my 16-week regimen of chemotherapy, and last week my doctor ordered up sort of a halftime report on how I’m doing. This is an extended set of lab tests, and today she called to tell me the results. Apparently they came out great. Unfortunately, […]

Russia Invades Ukraine, Hookers Raise Prices

condoms-russia-crisis

Talk about your second- and third-order effects.

Comparative Human Rights Abuses

travel-suitcase

Via the Monkey Cage (Putting Cuban human rights violations in some context), Erik Voeten notes In a recent article (ungated) in the American Political Science Review, Penn State political scientist Christopher J. Fariss develops a smart measurement model that captures the common component among different measures of physical integrity rights. Moreover, this model generates measures […]

Drezner on Cuba

travel-suitcase

If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend Dan Drezner’s piece on Cuba from yesterday:  Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered

Ok, This is Silly: No “Team America”

travel-suitcase

Via TPM Livewire:  Paramount Blocks 2004 Movie ‘Team America’ From Being Shown In Theaters

US-Cuban Relations and Venezuela

travel-suitcase

Via Bloomberg:  Obama Makes Maduro’s ‘Insolent Yankees’ a Tougher Sell “Maduro’s anti-US rhetoric is being undercut by the Cuban government,” said Gregory Weeks, head of Latin American studies at the University of North Carolina. “One of the biggest repercussions is that Maduro’s foreign policy is based on exclusion of the U.S. and now its biggest […]

GOP Wins Last Outstanding House Seat, Has Largest Majority Since 1928 Elections

us-politics

The final undecided House election of 2014 was decided yesterday in Arizona, and it gives the GOP another pickup and its biggest House majority in eighty-six years: Republicans clinched their 247th U.S. House seat on Wednesday when GOP challenger Martha McSally officially unseated Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), bringing to an end the final unresolved congressional […]

Sony, “The Interview,” and Running Government Like a Business.

military-soldier-sunset

It strike me that the situation with Sony and The Interview is a good example of why you can’t run government like a business. While the US government would have to make calculations about warding off future attacks, national reputations, etc. in the face of terrorist threats, all Sony (And AMC, etc.) had to do […]

Texas Plumber’s Used Truck Ends Up In Syria Being Driven By Islamist Fighters

Texas Syria

A truck that used to belong to a small Texas plumbing company has been spotted in Syria in the hands of anti-Assad Islamist: TEXAS CITY — A local plumber is being flooded with phone calls — and some threats — after a picture of one of his old company vehicles being used by Islamist militants […]

Hatred Won’t Improve the Discourse

academic-book-glasses

Now, granted, communications is not my academic area of expertise, but I am pretty sure that starting off a column with  the sentence “I hate X” pretty much precludes any chance of communicating (at least having discourse with) members of group X. And yet, Susan J. Douglas, Professor  and Chair of Communications at the University […]

Colombia also Feeling the Fall of Oil Prices

travel-suitcase

Via Reuters:  Colombia Congress passes tax reform to contain deficit Colombia’s lower house passed a tax law that will earn the government 53 trillion pesos ($22.3 billion) over the next four years mostly from businesses, by extending and modifying existing taxes that will expire at the end of this year. The package was passed by […]

Chart of the Day

travel-suitcase

This is from the iPhone story, but it deserves its own post:

Rubles and iPhones

travel-suitcase

Via the BBC:  Rouble turmoil leads to Apple halting online sales in Russia Technology giant Apple says it cannot sell products online in Russia because the rouble’s value is too volatile for it to set prices. The company stopped sales of its iPhones, iPads and other products in the country after a day in which […]

Sowell Deploys a TTBS

us-politics

As a follow-on to my post the other day (On Ticking Time Bombs) I see that Thomas Sowell is joining in the fun: If you knew that there was a hidden nuclear time bomb planted somewhere in New York City — set to go off today — and you had a captured terrorist who knew […]

Norman Birdwell, Author Of ‘Clifford, The Big Red Dog’ Children’s Books, Dies At 86

Norman Birdwell

Norman Birdwell, the author and illustrator behind one of the most successful series of children’s books ever, has died at the age of 86: Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, a figure who looms as large in toddler lit as the great white whale does in the American canon, died on […]

South Dakota Pulls ‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’ Campaign

dont-jerk-and-drive

  The South Dakota Department of Highway Safety’s “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign was a pundit’s wet dream. New York Magazine‘s Jessica Roy (“South Dakota Yanks ‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’ Ad Campaign“) has some fun with her report: South Dakota has yanked its “Don’t Jerk and Drive” ad campaign for reasons that are totally obvious […]

When Mom Calls C-Span

CSPAN

No matter how your day is going at least you can say it didn’t start out with Mom calling in to C-Span while you were a guest, unless of course your names are Brad and Dallas Woodhouse: C-SPAN guests usually go on prepared for the occasional offensive question from a caller but when Dallas and […]

Senate Confirms Controversial Surgeon General Nominee Vivek Murthy

Capitol Daytime

After nearly a year during which his nomination was blocked by Republicans working together with the National Rifle Association, President Obama’s choice for Surgeon General has been confirmed: President Obama’s pick to serve as the next surgeon general was confirmed Monday evening more than a year and half after being nominated, the first of nearly […]

David Garth, Pioneer Political And Campaign Consultant, Dies At 84

David Garth

David Garth, who served behind the scenes of American politics for some four decades and helped elect Governors, Mayors, and Senators from the 1960s through the 2000s, has died at the age of 84: David Garth, a pugnacious and indefatigable pioneer of the political commercial, who helped elect governors, senators and four New York City […]

What Does “Linked to Terrorism” Mean?

military-soldier-sunset

A question occurs in response to Doug Mataconis’ post this morning:  what does "linked To terrorism" mean?*   After all, we often want to know if a given act of violence is “terrorism” or not (and we seem, collectively, to react differently if an act is “terrorism” or not). If an armed individual holds hostages because […]

Hayden and “Rectal Hydration”

us-politics

Via The Hill:   Ex-CIA director defends rectal rehydration “These were medical procedures,” Hayden said during a tense interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” He added that the method was used because detainees were dehydrated, and that giving them intravenous fluids with needles would be dangerous.  ”I’m not a doctor,” he said. “What I […]

Politinerds Radio: Congressman Richard Hanna

Politinerds

On this week’s episode of Politinerds, Jazz Shaw and I interview Congressman Richard Hanna, a Republican representing New York’s 22nd Congressional District, a District in Central New York State that stretches from the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario south to the New York-Pennsylvania border south of Binghamtom. Congressman Hanna has been in office since being […]

Ancient Egyptian Glass Found In Grave In Denmark

King Tut

Some fascinating news via io9 that indicates trade in the ancient world was far more widespread than we have previously realized: An analysis of artifacts retrieved from Bronze Age burial sites reveals that Denmark and ancient Egypt traded with one another 3,400 years ago, and possibly practiced similar religious rituals. Scientists from the National Museum […]

Rationalizing Torture

us-politics

I would recommend the following (audio only at the moment):  What Is Torture? Our Beliefs Depend In Part On Who’s Doing It. The piece is about social science research on torture and notes, among other things, 1.  Humans are likely to define “torture” differently if it their group doing it versus when other groups do […]

ISIS? ISIL? Islamic State? How About Daesh?

ISIS Fighters

It appears that American officials are starting to refer to ISIS, which the President had previously principally referred to as ISIL, by an entirely new name: On Wednesday, John Kerry was speaking at NATO headquarters in Belgium during a meeting of the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State extremist group. During his remarks, the secretary of state […]

Gruber

us-politics

Dana Milbank’s piece on the Gruber testimony is worth a read:  The Jonathan Gruber hearing was a zany coda to Darrell Issa’s tumultuous tenure. His summary of the events are not that different than this report from Fox News:  Gruber apologizes for ‘mean and insulting’ ObamaCare comments and this one from The Hill:  Gruber grilled […]

You are Defending Torture

us-politics

So far the only critique of the Senate report has been that the techniques deployed by the CIA did, in fact, produce good and useful intelligence. Setting aside whether that is true or not, keep in mind that such an argument is a defense of torture. I have not seen anyone disputing the actual content […]

Harvard Business School Professor Freaks Out Over $4 Mistake On Bill From Chinese Restaurant

harvard-penants

A Professor at Harvard Business School had a rather bizarre reaction to a $4 error on a bill from a Brookline, Mass. Chinese restaurant: Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location […]

Least Shocking Headline of the Day

us-politics

“Dick Cheney Was Lying About Torture” (Politico).

Mistletoe Drone Nearly Chops Off Woman’s Nose

Facepalm

Apparently someone in charge at a T.G.I. Friday’s in New York thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone with mistletoe on it around the restaurant: TGI Fridays’ “mobile mistletoe drone” left a woman bloody and missing a piece of her nose last week. Photographer Georgine Benvenuto was at a Fridays in […]

Law (and Law Enforcement) Need not Lead to Violence

law-scales-justice-flag

Despite some of the commentary on threads from recent posts, the presence of the law does not mean that force is around the corner (or that law enforcement officers have no choice but resort to violence in the face of malefactors). Via AL.com: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family […]

Attitudes on Race (Survey Data)

us-politics

There is a reason why one can safely make assumptions about racist attitudes (unfortunately) in much of American society as data from the 2012 American National Elections Study demonstrates (as summarized by political scientist Tobin Grant at his blog, Corner of Church and State:  Poll: Most whites say blacks are lazier or less intelligent than […]

“Sad Joe Biden” Photo Goes Viral, Hilarity Ensues

Biden

A photo of Vice-President Biden from September has become an immortal Internet meme: It started in September, when the above photo was taken, and the Internet embraced the opportunity to try and understand what Biden could have been thinking. The meme could have died there, but it instead turned into a Hydra that kept regrowing favs. […]

On Resisting Arrest

law-scales-justice-flag

Several of my recent posts have been on the question of whether a specific law can be said to be to blame for outcomes like the Eric Garner situation or whether it is about the enforcement of those laws (and the behavior of the police). To add some numbers to that debate we have the […]

Chris Rock on Ferguson, Cosby, and ‘Racial Progress’

us-politics

Worth a read:  (via Vulture):  Chris Rock Talks to Frank Rich About Ferguson, Cosby, and What ‘Racial Progress’ Really Means. And, the man has a point: to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people […]

From the “You Can’t Make this Stuff up File” (Chinese Constitution Day Edition)

travel-suitcase

Via Foreign Policy:  On First Annual Constitution Day, China’s Most Censored Word Was ‘Constitution’ On Dec. 4, China’s first annual Constitution Day, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Dailyposted the complete text of the Chineseconstitution to its Weibo microblogging account, accompanied by the upbeathashtag: “Let’s all read the Constitution!” The easy-to-read attachment included each constitutional article — including […]

Bar Featured In The Godfather Still Open In Sicily

Godfather Bar

The site of one of the iconic scenes from The Godfather is still an operating bar in Sicily: Once upon a time, Michael Corleone sat on the shady terrace of a local Sicilian bar after a day of hunting with his bodyguards in the mountains. He began to enquire with the bar owner about a beautiful girl he […]

Introducing Politinerds

money-bankruptcy

I’m happy to announce that going forward, I’ll be co-hosting a podcast at Vigilant Liberty Radio called Politinerds with friend and fellow blogger Jazz Shaw of Hot Air. While we’ll likely hit on current events quite a lot in the weeks and months going forward, as Jazz notes, we’re aiming for something just a little […]

GOP House Majority Largest In 67 Years

John-Boehner-Speaker-of-House-of-Representatives

In addition to picking up another Senate seat in yesterday’s Louisiana runoff, the GOP also won two House races, thus giving Republicans their biggest majority since Harry Truman was President and, depending on the result of a race in Arizona that is still too close to call, perhaps its biggest majority since 1929: Republicans will […]

On “Broken Windows” Policing

law-scales-justice-flag

Worth a read from Slate:  Broken Windows Policing Doesn’t Work.

A Quick Observation on the “Too Many Laws” Argument (as Linked to Garner)

law-scales-justice-flag

While I need to formulate (and am working on it, in fact) more well developed response to the discussion of the role played by the law on cigarettes in the death of Eric Garner, I do have a simple response I want to note (it is a thought that has occurred to me more than […]

Thousands Of Sony Passwords Stored In Directory Called “Password”

Computer Password Security

Sony’s corporate security leaves much to be desired: Yesterday afternoon, the hackers behind the massive Sony corporate data hack released a new trove of documents, and it appears that things are only going to get worse for the victim of the most embarrassing and all-encompassing hack of internal corporate data ever made public. Included in […]

Navy Strips Bill Cosby of Honorary Rank

military-soldier-sunset

The Navy has stripped Navy veteran Bill Cosby of an honorary promotion in the wake of unproven sexual misconduct accusations.

Nobody Else In North Korea Can Be Named “Jong Un”

Kim Jong Un

If you live in North Korea, and if you do you’re not likely to be reading this blog post, don’t even think of naming your child  Jong-Un: SEOUL, South Korea — There is plenty that is off-limits to North Koreans. Televisions that receive anything other than government broadcasts. Traveling outside their hometowns without official permission. […]

Ashton Carter Appears To Be Pick To Replace Hagel At Pentagon

pentagon1

CNN is reporting that Ashton Carter, who formerly served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2011 until just last December and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics prior to that, will in all likelihood be named to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense: Washington (CNN) — Ashton Carter, the former second-in-command at […]

Mary Landrieu Looks Like She’s Headed For A Big Loss On Saturday

louisiana-welcome

With the fate of the Senate in the 114th Congress already decided, the Runoff Election in Louisiana isn’t getting nearly the attention it otherwise might have gotten had it become a race that could have decided the battle for control of the Senate, and that seems to be sealing the fate of Senator Mary Landrieu: […]

Portman Says No To Presidential Run

us-politics

Senator Rob Portman says he’s not running for President: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) says he is not running for president in 2016, ending speculation around the centrist Ohio senator. “I don’t think I can run for president and be an effective senator at the same time,” he said in a statement late Monday night, announcing […]

Casablanca Piano Sells For $3.4 Million

Casablanca Piano

Perhaps the most famous piano in movie history was sold at auction for more than $3 million dollars: The letters of transit — “signed by General de Gaulle, cannot be rescinded, not even questioned” — were hidden under its unusual hinged lid. It is golden yellow with touches of green and gold, a surprise to […]

Star Wars Episode VII Teaser Trailer Released

Star Wars The Force Awakens

As previously announced, the first teaser trailer for the next Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released in select theaters and online: For those interested, io9 has a scene-by-scene breakdown along with speculation about what it all might mean. For me, all I really needed was that final, short glimpse of […]

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